'A piece of art': Tampa doctor's Babe Ruth baseball card could become most expensive ever sold

The baseball card collection of the late Dr. Thomas Newman, a neurologist in Tampa who died after a battle with COVID-19, is expected to go for more than $20 million at auction next month.  The collection’s crown jewel is an ultra-rare 1933 Babe Ruth card.  

"It is one of the most iconic Babe Ruth cards that's in existence," said JP Cohen of Memory Lane Auctions, the company holding the auction.

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Memory Lane Auctions expects it to break the sports card record of $5.2 million. But what makes it so pricey? Well, it’s the Great Bambino, for starters, but also its yellow color and condition.  This particular card was graded a 9 out of 10 – near perfect condition.

"If someone wants the highest possible graded yellow ‘33 Goudey Ruth card, they have to buy this one," Cohen said.  

It’s called a "gum card" because the cards were originally sold with candy – in this case, by the Goudey Gum Company.

"It wasn't about selling the card, it was about selling bubble gum, and these cards came in bubble gum packs," Cohen explained.  

1933 was the first year that Goudey issued cards with its gum. There were actually four Ruth cards in that original set, but the yellow version, number 53 in the collection, is the rarest.

"The 1933 yellow Ruth card is not a photo, it is an actual artist’s rendering someone drew to create that card in the '30s," Cohen continued. "It is not just a baseball card, it’s a piece of art."

And 80 years later, it's become a treasured piece of history.  

"The chances of another one in that condition surfacing, at this point, is one in a million," Cohen added. "It’s like winning the lottery."

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